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  1. Kapalabhati - Shining Skull
  2. Jala Neti
  3. Walking breath
  4. Agnisara
  5. Metta Meditation
  6. Crocodile posture
  7. Deergha swasam (Complete Breath) or 3 Part Breath
  8. Two to OneBreathing
  9. Corpse Posture
  10. Nadi Shodhana
  11. Sandbag
  12. Soham mantra
  13. Bhastrika (Bellows) Breath
  14. Spinal breath
  15. Agniprasana (Breath of fire)
  16. Retention
  17. Ujayi
  18. Brahmari:
  19. Elongating breath
  1. a Also called the "Shining Skull" this practice emphasizes the exhalation in a very quick, thrusting motion at the base of the abdomen. The inhalation is then allow to release naturally. Unless there are health problems, most people can do this practice. To do a few before meditation, such as 10-20 or so can have a centering effect.
  2. b Nasal Wash - Allowing the breath to flow smoothly: There is a simple technique that is called nasal wash (Jala Neti) in which warm, slightly salted water is flowed from a container into one nostril, and then allowed to flow out the other nostril. The salt is mixed into the water so as to have approximately the saltiness of tears. A pinch of non-iodized salt in a half-cup of water is about right. The nasal wash has a cleansing effect that allows the breath to flow much more freely. Thus, this cleansing also has a calming effect.
  3. c There are a variety of practices with awareness moving up and down the spine with the breath. One may do this practice between particular energy centers (chakras) or form different shapes of the visualized flow, including elliptical or a figure-eight. (Spinal breath is part of the Yoga Nidra CD)

    The most straight forward, and yet completely effective method is to:

    Imagine the breath flowing from the top of the head, down to the base of the spine on exhalation, and to

    Imagine the flow coming from the base of the spine to the top of the head on inhalation.

    This may be done lying down, or in a seated meditation posture.

    One may simply experience the breath, or may be aware of a thin, milky white stream flowing in a straight line, up and down. This practice is very subtle when experienced at its depth, and can turn into a profoundly deep part of meditation practice.

    Sometimes the breath practices along the spine are considered to be part of, one and the same with Kriya Yoga or Kundalini Yoga, as well as Raja Yoga or Hatha Yoga.
  4. d Alternate Nostril Breathing

    When the energy is not balanced, one of the most visible ways in which this is seen, is in the nostrils. Most of the time, one or the other nostril is more dominant, allowing air to move more freely. This is quite a natural process. However, when they are flowing evenly, the mind really likes to be quiet and meditate.

    Alternate Nostril breathing is a method where you consciously work with that energy by regulating the physical breath in one or the other nostril. This in turn effects the energy and mind. It brings balance, and allows the energy to flow in the center, rather than on the left or right side.

    To control the flow of breath, one usually begins by using their fingers to block off one nostril so as to allow the other to flow. Then, the fingers are moved so as to block the opposite nostril, and allow the previously blocked nostril to flow. This cycle will be repeated several times.

    One method of alternate nostril breathing that is easy to understand (when written down like this) is to exhale and inhale from one nostril five times. Then, do five times with the other nostril. That is called a "round." Doing three rounds is a complete practice. There are a variety of different patterns of doing alternate nostril breathing (such as the five on each side method).

    This physical act really does have an effect on the autonomic nervous system, and allows one to become "centered" in such a way that both nostrils are flowing smoothly. In this state, the mind is also quite relaxed.

    Gradually, one learns to do this with attention, not the fingers, allowing attention to move from one to the other nostril. One sits quietly, with eyes closed, and simply places attention on the nostril.
  5. e Awareness and strength: When you are first learning breathing practices, including breath awareness and diaphragmatic, the use of a sandbag can both increase awareness and strengthen the diaphragm muscle.

    The sandbag is about 10-14 pounds, and is placed on your upper abdomen and lower chest area while you lie in the corpse posture. The weight will significantly increase your awareness of breathing in this area, and will also force the muscles to push against the weight of the sandbag, making them stronger.

    Sandbags are commercially available, or you can make your own. One alternative is to purchase a 10 pound (or 5kg) bag of rice. Wrap it in a cloth or a towel, or put it in a pillow case, and place that on your upper abdomen / lower chest. After you have practiced with it long enough, you can eat the rice!
  6. f Brahmari means the "bee." In this practice the lips are closed, and you gently, smoothly make a sound like a buzzing bee in your throat. This simple practice is quite effective in making the breath smooth and allowing the mind to become quiet. You can feel the vibration of the sound in the areas of your throat, jaws, and mouth.

    This practice is so straightforward and useful that it can be taught to anyone, regardless of their background. It is best done for 2-3 minutes.
  7. g

    It is also one of the basic breathing exercises for Kundallini yoga. Done properly, it clears toxins and deposits from the lungs, mucous linings cells and blood vessel. This breathing technique is known to increase the lung capacity and vital strength. Some benefits of this exercise include:

    Stimulating the solar plexus to release energy throughout the body
    Keeping the blood purified if done for 5 to 15 minutes every day.
    Regulating the pituitary gland and nervous system if done for 31 minutes every day.
    Raising the voltage of nervous system and strengthening shaky nerves
    Increasing physical endurance in need of competitive or survival situations
    Producing alpha rhythm in the brain which is essential for meditation
    The list of benefits of this exercise is endless. However, caution must be used if you are suffering from high blood pressure, heart diseases, epilepsy or stroke. Avoid this exercise if you are menstruating or heat related gastric issues such as ulcers. Also, stop the exercise you feel dizzy or are suffering from vertigo.
  8. h In Ujjai breathing, the glottis is partially closed. The glottis is that part in the throat area that closes when you swallow, but which is open when you breath. When you partially close the glottis while breathing, you can hear a sound resonate from within, as well as feel a flow of air on the palate. A slightly different sound is heard on inhalation and exhalation.

    During inhalation, one tightens the abdominal muscles very slightly, and during exhalation the abdominal muscles are used to exhale completely.

    One feels the air and listens to the sound during the practice. Sounds like the sea or the wind.
  9. i Causing energy to arise: There are a variety of forms of breath retention. These are very stimulating, and cause energy to awaken and arise. However, that energy needs to be trained to be used in positive ways. Otherwise the energy just becomes nervous tension.

    If you examine the effects of breath retention on the autonomic nervous system, you will see that it creates sympathetic arousal, or stress, unless one has advanced in their physical, emotion, and mental health to a certain point.

    Preparation is essential: The key to doing breath retention is that there must be preparation. As with the vigorous breathing practices, retention is not essential. Attaining a natural slowing to a 90-second breath, with no pauses is the preparation for retention (as described in the Elongating practice below).
  10. j In practicing basic breathing, you first learn to make the exhalation and inhalation of equal length, and then eliminate the irregularities mentioned above.

    Then, you practice making exhalation twice as long as the inhalation. For example, you may time your breath so that you exhale for a count of 6 seconds, and inhale for a count of 3 seconds, or about 6-7 breaths per minute.

    You work with the rates of breathing to find the most comfortable speed for you. For example, 4:2, 6:3, 8:4, 10:5, 12:6, where the first number is the number of seconds of exhalation, and the second (smaller) number is the number of seconds of inhalation. You can simply count internally for a minute or so, and then let go of the counting so as to just practice and observe the breathing.

    Two-to-One breathing has a very relaxing effect on the autonomic nervous system and is great preparation for meditation.
  11. k You should know, understand, and do agnisara. It is a very unique and useful exercise that has the benefits of all the other exercises. If you cannot do any other physical exercise on a particular day, at least do this one exercise. It cures many diseases.

    Agnisara is different from the stomach lift and it is important not to confuse it. Unlike the stomach lift, which focuses at the navel center, agnisara is an exercise for the lower abdomen and pelvic region. It is called "agnisara" because it energizes the entire solar system of the body. The solar system is the largest network in the human body and agnisara provides warmth to this entire system.

    To do agnisara, stand with your feet about six inches apart and rest the weight of your body through your arms on your knees, keeping the back relaxed. Then as you exhale, contract the muscles in the lower abdomen and pull them in and up. As you inhale, you gently release the muscles, allowing the lower abdomen to return to its natural position. When you pull in the abdomen it helps you to expell all the waste gasses of the lungs. When you allow the abdomen to come out, it creates more space in your lungs for oxygen. You should make this exercise a habit.

    To do agnisara correctly, coordinate it with your normal breathing. You exhale, pulling in and up and you inhale and release. Exhaling, you contract the lower abdominal muscles and the area just above the pelvis, drawing them inward and upward, more tightly; and then inhaling, you release. It is not a stomach lift; it involves the lower abdomen. This is the real agnisara.

    The exercise starts with the pelvis and ends at the pelvis. If you can do agnisara 100 to 150 times a day, you do not need any other exercise. You will have so much energy you will feel like you are floating. It creates perfect digestion and terrific energy. You will become more efficient in any field. Begin the practice of agnisara with twenty-five repetitions and increase to beyond a hundred.

    This exercise should not be done by pregnant of menstruating women. - Swami Rama
  12. l In basic breathing, one eliminates the pause between the breaths. For one doing retention practices, which are different practices, a pause is intentionally created so as to arouse energy.

    Eliminate the pause completely: However, there is another way to deal with the pause and retention. That is, eliminate the pause completely, and then gently, over time allow the breath to elongate. Reflect on this for a moment, and you will come to see that elongating the breath gradually leads to a virtual retention of breath, though without actively restraining it. When the breath naturally becomes very slow, it is as if, it is not moving at all.

    Allowing breath to slow: Lie on your back in the corpse posture, and put your attention on the navel center, or going up and down the spine. You can gradually allow the speed of breath to slow, though still having no pause.

    10 second breath: When you notice it naturally slow to about a 10-second breath (exhalation and inhalation), there will be relaxation.

    15-20 second breath: When it slows naturally to about 15-20 seconds (3-4 breaths per minute) you will be quite relaxed (presuming it feels natural, not forced).

    30-60 second breath: When it naturally slows to about 30-60 seconds for one breath (1-2 breaths per minute), you will be at the doorway of deep meditation, provided you are not straining, and do not sleep.

    90 second breath: A rate of 90 seconds for one breath can be used as a target to aim for, allowing six months or more to reach this level. To do this naturally, without straining will probably require having a well balanced life, regular physical exercise, a healthy diet, and regular sleep.

    Towards samadhi: These slower breathing rates gradually move one towards deep meditation and samadhi.

    The masters: A Yoga master might have only one breath in 10 minutes (though we need not pursue this, or feel that this is necessary to have deep meditation or samadhi; actually it comes as a result of samadhi)

    The practice of eliminating the pause
    and elongating the breath is a
    most direct route, or short cut.

    A short cut: This process of Elongating the breath is thus a short-cut (direct route) for most people. It is very gentle, and very loving to your body, nervous system and your mind. It allows you to progress at your own, natural rate. (During the breath practices on the Yoga Nidra CD the breathing naturally slows.)

    The simple is advanced: Oddly, this practice seems too simple, too basic, but this simple practice is profound and is quite advanced. This is one of the reasons that people are usually told to not meditate lying down. Usually you will go to sleep. For meditation, the corpse posture is an advanced practice. However, if you can lie down in the corpse posture, and yet remain wide awake while the breath slows, it will take you very deep. The key is to be gentle, patient, and to stay awake. Remember that it is best to have a healthy lifestyle, good food, exercise, and regular sleep.
  13. m Also called the Bellows, Bhastrika is a middle section breath, from the diaphragm. If one does a few of them, say about 10-20, it can have a calming, balancing effect. If more are done, such as in the 100's or more, it is best that one have a solid foundation of good health and stabilized mind.
  14. n Walking breath meditation is a wonderful Yoga practice that can be done right in the middle of daily life, and integrates body, breath, and mind.

    You count internally with exhalation and inhalation, and align this with the steps you are taking while walking. So, for example, you may count 4:4. This means as you walk, you exhale while you internally count off 4 paces. At the end of this, you start to inhale, and count off 4 paces. You count 4 paces with exhalation, and 4 paces with inhalation. You literally speak the numbers as you count them, but only internally, silently in the mind.

    Automatically, your breath becomes even. Automatically, your body and breath synchronize. Automatically, your mind synchronizes with the body and breath, by virtue of the internal counting. As you walk, you need to find the right pace that is comfortable, and in alignment with the speed you are walking. You might find that 2:2, 3:3, 4:4, 5:5 6:6, etc. is the optimum speed for you.

    As you get proficient with even breathing, you can shift to two-to-one breathing with walking, such as 6 paces with exhalation, and 3 paces with inhalation. Again, you need to find the pace that is comfortable for you. This practice can easily be done when you are walking even one or two minutes from one place to another. It brings great benefits, right in the middle of daily life, including a calm, peaceful mind and relaxation to the autonomic nervous system.

    Exhale Inhale Ratio
    4 4 1:1
    3 3 1:1
    5 4 1.25:1
    4 3 1.33:1
    6 4 1.5:1
    3 2 1.5:1
    8 4 2:1
    6 3 2:1
    2 1 2:1
  15. o May I be happy. May I be well. May I be safe. May I be peaceful and at ease.

    The practice of Metta meditation is a beautiful support to other awareness practices. One recites specific words and phrases evoking a "boundless warm-hearted feeling." The strength of this feeling is not limited to or by family, religion, or social class. We begin with our self and gradually extend the wish for well-being happiness to all beings.

    Metta is first practiced toward oneself, since we often have difficulty loving others without first loving ourselves. Sitting quietly, mentally repeat, slowly and steadily, the following or similar phrases:

    May I be happy. May I be well. May I be safe. May I be peaceful and at ease.

    While you say these phrases, allow yourself to sink into the intentions they express. Loving-kindness meditation consists primarily of connecting to the intention of wishing ourselves or others happiness. However, if feelings of warmth, friendliness, or love arise in the body or mind, connect to them, allowing them to grow as you repeat the phrases. As an aid to the meditation, you might hold an image of yourself in your mind's eye. This helps reinforce the intentions expressed in the phrases.

    After a period of directing loving-kindness toward yourself, bring to mind a friend or someone in your life who has deeply cared for you. Then slowly repeat phrases of loving-kindness toward them:

    May you be happy. May you be well. May you be safe. May you be peaceful and at ease.

    As you say these phrases, again sink into their intention or heartfelt meaning. And, if any feelings of loving-kindness arise, connect the feelings with the phrases so that the feelings may become stronger as you repeat the words.

    As you continue the meditation, you can bring to mind other friends, neighbors, acquaintances, strangers, animals, and finally people with whom you have difficulty. You can either use the same phrases, repeating them again and again, or make up phrases that better represent the loving-kindness you feel toward these beings. In addition to simple and perhaps personal and creative forms of metta practice, there is a classic and systematic approach to metta as an intensive meditation practice. Because the classic meditation is fairly elaborate, it is usually undertaken during periods of intensive metta practice on retreat.

    Sometimes during loving-kindness meditation, seemingly opposite feelings such as anger, grief, or sadness may arise. Take these to be signs that your heart is softening, revealing what is held there. You can either shift to mindfulness practice or you can—with whatever patience, acceptance, and kindness you can muster for such feelings—direct loving-kindness toward them. Above all, remember that there is no need to judge yourself for having these feelings.
  16. p Variety of practice in corpse posture: The corpse posture is lying on your back, allowing your body to act like a corpse. In this posture, you can do a variety of awareness and mental regulation exercises. You can:

    Observe the rise and fall of the abdomen at the navel center.
    Observe and eliminate jerkiness.
    Be aware of, and eliminate pauses.
    Gently allow the breath to slow down naturally.
    Allow breath to be so smooth that it is quiet.
    Imagine energy of breath is flowing up and down the spine.

    Before meditation: To spend a few minutes in the corpse posture, being aware, and removing irregularities is a very useful practice to do before meditation.
  17. q Automatically breathe from the diaphragm: The crocodile is a particular posture in which you are lying on your front side, with your abdomen and lower chest on the floor, and your legs stretched out behind you. Your forehead rests on folded arms, with your upper chest lifted off the floor. In this posture, you will automatically breath from your diaphragm. Your chest will automatically be still.

    By practicing this posture, two things happen. First, you get the relaxation benefits in the moment, from breathing diaphragmatically. Second, you can internally pay attention to the feel of the breath, and notice the stillness of the chest, the immobility in the lower abdomen, and the strong way in which the diaphragm is operating. By observing this internally, it is then easier to take this awareness and method with you when you leave the posture.
  18. r Universal mantra: The soham mantra has been called the universal mantra because of the fact that its vibration is already a part of the breath, and everybody breathes. Sooooo... is the sound of inhalation, and Hummmm... is the sound of exhalation.
  19. s Though not performed in a vigorous way, the Complete Breath is quite invigorating. The Complete Breath involves the abdomen, diaphragm and chest muscles. You breathe sequentially in three ways, and then reverse the process.

    First, inhale completely at the abdomen.

    Second, continue to inhale by filling in the mid-section, the area of the diaphragm.

    Third, continue to inhale by filling the chest, allowing the upper chest and the shoulders to rise.

    Then systematically release and empty from the upper portion, then the mid-section, and finally empty completely at the abdomen.

    The Complete Breath is good to do whenever you meditate. Even 2-3 breaths will have a useful effect.